- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines private university is offering potential students other options if they don’t want to submit their SAT or ACT test results with their application packet.

Drake University announced on Wednesday that it’ll adopt a test-flexible admissions policy starting with applicants for the fall 2016 semester who have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher and meet other criteria. Those prospective students can keep their results to themselves and opt instead for an interview in which they can speak about their experiences inside and outside of the classroom.

School officials say they still think the tests are valuable predictors of an applicant’s academic performance.

The move by the university is unusual in the Midwest but gaining popularity across the country. Drake University’s announcement makes it one of more than 850 institutions in the U.S. that are giving applicants the option of withholding their ACT or SAT score, the Iowa City Press-Citizen (https://icp-c.com/1LdwBf5 ) reported.

Standardized testing companies wonder why some of the colleges would hold back in requiring students to provide their test results.

“We really don’t understand why colleges would want to make admission decisions about individual students without the additional valuable information provided by ACT scores. It goes against the notion of holistic admission practices,” Ed Colby, director of public relations for the Iowa City-based ACT, said in an email.

But supporters of such policies say they find the tests biased against non-native English speakers and nontraditional students.

Drake University long has had a process of deferring applications with lower test scores and reaching out to the student for additional information or an interview. Potential applicants, though, hadn’t always been aware that the school was prepared to make such accommodations, said Tom Delahunt, the school’s vice president for admissions and student financial planning.

Among other criteria used for admission are the strength of academic transcripts, community engagement and any special honors.

“We already had a holistic approach,” Delahunt said. “This is just making it formal.”

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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